Major Lazer At Congress Theater In Chicago
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By Ramon Alvarez-Smikle
When GRAMMY-nominated producer Thomas Wesley Pentz aka Diplo created Major Lazer, his Jamaican dancehall-influenced alter ego, along with fellow DJ Jillionaire, it was clear there was no genre of music that was outside his creative reach. Now, on a world tour supporting their upcoming studio album, Free The Universe (due April 15), Major Lazer are bringing more energy and Caribbean flavor to crowds than ever before.
Fans at Congress Theater in Chicago waited patiently through four opening acts for Major Lazer to take the stage. Finally, at approximately 11 p.m. a 30-second countdown began and two large Major Lazer heads appeared on a white sheet covering the stage. The crowd got louder with each passing second, until finally the sheet came down and the show began.
The energy in the building was spectacular as Diplo and Jillionaire, along with hype man Walshy Fire and two dancers, took to the stage and opened with the massive dancehall-inspired track "Original Don." Dressed in a black suit, Diplo gazed into the crowd and emphatically shouted, "Chicago!" to which the audience roared back in delight. Diplo and Jillionaire's suits were soon replaced with tank tops and T-shirts that read "Get Free And Express Yourself" as the party kicked into top gear.
The excitement never dipped throughout the night as Major Lazer played track after track of high-energy, crowd-pleasing songs from Free The Universe, mixed in with a plethora of remixes of songs from every genre of music imaginable. They shot green, yellow and red confetti into the crowd, and gave crowd surfing a whole new meaning as they rode across the audience encased in giant inflatable clear balls. Major Lazer created an experience for their fans that really made us feel like we were an important part of the show. By throwing out vuvuzelas for the fans to blow, along with Major Lazer-themed imitation $100 bills, there was no escaping their huge presence.
They upped the ante by playing massive songs such as "Pon De Floor," "Express Yourself," House Of Pain's "Jump Around," and an unforgettable remix of the Elvis Crespo classic "Suavemente."
As the show came to an end, Jillionaire, Walshy Fire and Diplo came to the front of the stage, each waving a giant Major Lazer flag, while their eerie yet beautiful lead single "Get Free," featuring vocals by Amber Coffman of the Dirty Projectors, blared through the speakers and into a crowd wild with excitement.
With the song still playing, the trio excited the stage, leaving the crowd cheering in hopes of an encore. To the everyone's delight, Diplo reemerged to perform an early Major Lazer song, "Pon De Street," and a remix of Bob Marley's "One Love." As the entire audience sang along, it was a fitting way to end the night.
"Original Don" (Flosstradamus remix)
"Jah No Partial" (featuring Flux Pavillion)
"Jah No Partial" (Yellow Claw remix)
"Harlem Shake" (Baauer)
"Masta Blasta" (Dillon Francis)
"Heads Will Roll" (Yeah Yeah Yeahs/A-Trak remix)
"Oh My (Not Afraid To Die)" (Partysquad)
"Suavemente" (Elvis Crespo/Kennedy Jones Trap remix)
"Welcome To Jamrock" (Damian Marley)
"Get Free" (Yellow Claw remix)
"Jump Around" (House Of Pain)
"Hold Yuh" (Gyptian/Major Lazer remix)
"Watch Out For This (Bumaye)" (featuring Busy Signal, the Flexican & FS Green)
"Pon De Floor"
"Make It Hot"
"Bad Man" (Partysquad)
"Drop It Like It's Hot" (Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell/Major Lazer remix)
"Pon De Street"
"One Love" (Bob Marley)
To catch Major Lazer in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
(Ramon Alvarez-Smikle works is the GRAMMY U representative for The Recording Academy Chicago Chapter. He has interviewed artists such as M83, Toro Y Moi and Porter Robinson, among others. He has been published on many online blogs and websites over the past year, including GRAMMY.com.)